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La Porte County neighbors protest proposed ordinance

LA PORTE, Ind. - A group of La Porte County residents protested outside—and inside—Wednesday night’s commissioners’ meeting against a proposed code enforcement ordinance that is being sent to the Planning Commission.

Commissioners removed the ordinance from the agenda the previous week after the initial public outcry.

Protestors, however, say they still felt compelled to show up to the meeting to make their voices heard.

Around 100 people gathered along the streets outside the La Porte County Courthouse holding up signs and screaming, “Take back La Porte!”

More than 100 others joined the rallyers inside the meeting later, packing the entire room.

“Are you ridiculous? Are you guys crazy?” said Cindy Colalillo at the commissioners’ meeting.

“I believe you guys are kind of overstepping your boundaries of what you should do,” said Rod LaGard.

Cindy Colalillo, Rod LaGard, and many of their neighbors in La Porte County protested a new code enforcement ordinance Wednesday at the commissioners’ meeting.

“I’d like to see the entire ordinance completely scrapped. As it’s written now, you would have to have hundreds if not thousands of exemptions to get rid of all these outliers around the thing,” said one neighbor, Joe Haney.

The original draft includes sections on controlling grass height and weeds; another addresses junk in people’s yards; and a  new code enforcement officer would oversee the new rules.

“Where is he getting his money from? From revenue. He’s getting it from revenue. And where is revenue coming from? From fines,” said Kathryn Kirk at the podium.

The county says others are asking for these fines to finally be enforced.

“We estimate that there’s over a thousand complaints called in every year to either the commissioners’ officer, the building commissioners’ office, the sheriff’s department, or the health department, because people don’t want to live next to a junkyard. There’s 111,000 people in La Porte County. We have to represent all of them. This is actually a minority. The majority want something done,” said La Porte County Commissioners President, Richard Mrozinski.

“If people don’t show up for these and they just show a blind eye, and they didn’t have Facebook, you guys would be passing all sorts of totalitarian crap,” said LaGard.

Neighbors say that’s why they still brought up the grass and noise portions of the ordinance even though the commissioners pulled them from the next draft at the meeting in response to their complaints.

“You stay out of my life. I’ll stay out of yours. I pay my taxes. All I want you to do is govern when it’s for the best interest of the people like putting a road in,” said Dennis Metheny.

“I expect you to stand behind the Constitution. Tear this thing up or throw it out,” said Chris Pinkerton to a room full of applause.

The ordinance is headed to the Planning Commission for review and public input.

Commissioners say they are not sure when it will at last be put to a vote.

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